My GF (her first cruise) and I sailed on the Destiny on her third to last trip before the transformation to the Sunshine. This was my first boat when I started cruising, and I was looking forward to being on her again. I was also anxious to see how Carnival performed as there were some issues on my last cruise (Valor 10/10).
We made the drive across Alligator Alley to off port parking at a covered, secure garage handled by Premier Parking (the blue letter premier). The cost was half that of the port with a free shuttle. We had no problems whatsoever and I would recommend using these folks.
We were at the terminal by 11:45 and on-board by 12:15. No problems whatsoever. Smooth easy process with minimal fuss. Smiles and courtesy from all around.
We were able to get a table for two from the maitre'd and book the behind the scenes tour immediately upon entering the ship. From there, I gave my GF a bit of a tour of the Lido deck before we grabbed a light lunch. After that, a little more of a ship tour, a spa tour, and then on to the room.
We had room 7201, which is an interior with an obstructed view in the very forward part of deck 7. It had not been renovated to the new Sunshine decor yet but was clean and neat. No problems here at all during any of the cruise.
After the safety muster, we were on the observation area of deck 7 right outside our room waiting for departure when the Captain came on with the announcement that a stern thruster had failed, and due to the lack of tugs in Cozumel, we would be skipping Cozumel and going to Nassau instead.
The cruise director came on and said any disappointment was understandable and if anyone wanted to get off the boat, Carnival would give a full refund. Those of us who stayed on were given a $50 credit and refunded the port fee. At first, they gave a half hour window, but then extended that to whatever time it took to accommodate those who wanted to get off. All in all, it delayed departure by about 70 minutes and probably had about 10% of the passengers getting off.
I want to give Carnival credit here. They handled this professionally and, in my view, in the best manner possible given the circumstances. Carnival did their job well.
The GF and I briefly discussed this and decided to stay on as rearranging time off and keeping the cruise in our budget would have meant a lengthy delay before being able to reschedule. As you'll see later, I have no love for Nassau but you make the best of it.
The ship, with some room renovations already done, was in good shape. A little tired here and there, but neat and clean. No one had any room to complain.
After departing Miami (we stayed on the observation deck the whole time), we had our first meal in the main dining room at the late sitting. From the maitre'd to his assistant to our waiter to the bus staff, everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- did their job with a smile and professionalism. My GF was very impressed as was I. This level of service was there for the whole trip.
The food in the main dining room was excellent, especially the Lobster. I could find nothing to complain about. The staff dancing and singing continues to be a nice touch. The buffet food was good as well, with everything being kept stocked at a good clip to prevent any waiting or delays. The chocolate buffet on Sunday was a chocoholics delight.
We got an extra hour and a half in Key West due to the changes. Since we visit Key West somewhat regularly, we got off the boat and just visited some friends and places that we regularly do when we're in town. We got back on the boat a little early and watched folks come back to the boat. For the first time ever, I wasn't sweating in Key West. It was in the mid 60s with a solid 25 knot Northwest wind that gusted regularly. The temperature actually started dropping during the day, so yes, it was brisk.
After sailing (with 6 F18s flying across the bow as they made their way back from training missions), we crashed for a bit before formal night and dinner. After dinner, it was the casino where both the GF and I had some good luck. Again, the staff was excellent, with the dealers professional, friendly, and engaging. A job well done during the entire cruise!
With the weather, the seas were a bit unsettled but the boat handled it well with just a bit of rolling or pitching. My GF never felt seasick and I didn't hear anyone complaining about the ride.
In the morning, we had moved to the warm side of the front. Temperatures were in the 80s and the seas were flat. Arrival into Nassau was beautiful with another Carnival ship, an NCL ship, an RCL ship, and the Queen Elizabeth from Cunard in port. The Queen Elizabeth is a gorgeous vessel and was a nice extra for us.
I know there are folks who love Nassau but we do not share that opinion. Nassau has always been a bit of a hell hole to me, and nothing changed my mind on this visit. After walking Bay Street, we did a Sea and See excursion that was nice, although the land part was little weak. It was more or less one stop and then ride back to the dock to get on the boat for the sea part. Again, not bad, but not memorable either. The harbor tour was well done and the glass bottom boat provided some great views. Still, I have no desire to visit Nassau in the future.
When we got off the boat, we fought our way through the street vendors trying to shove beads into every part of your body and went to Senor Frogg's for every bit of 2 minutes before realizing it was a out of control mess (and I love a good party). Fought our way back to the boat and settled in for the sunset from the observation area outside our cabin. The QE sailed right at sunset which was a very nice addition to the evening.
Our day at sea was Sunday, and the GF got a mild (for her) migraine that morning. So instead of lounging on the deck, she nursed her head in the stateroom with me being the good BF and taking care of her. She insisted I go on the behind the scenes tour and go do things, so I ran back and forth between the tour, lido, shops and the room all day and evening.
I need to mention that Carnival again showed a lot of class here. They refunded her excursion fare for the behind the scenes tour without question. The guide on the tour inquired about her well being before we started. The cabin steward checked with us regularly. The wait staff asked about her that evening and, upon telling our waiter what the situation was, I got inquiries from all involved asking about her condition, even to the point of asking if the ship's doctor was needed. There were other members of the crew who asked about her as well. Again, well done Carnival.
The behind the scenes tour was outstanding and I highly recommend it to everyone. I cannot say enough about the friendliness of the crew we met on the tour from the Captain on down. Again, well done.
Docking in Miami was uneventful, the process of getting off the boat was smooth and fast. We were picked up by our shuttle in under 10 minutes and in the car and on our home within 30 minutes of clearing customs.
On my last cruise on the Valor, I had some issues and concerns with Carnival on how they handled a tropical storm, itinerary changes, communication, and cancelled excursions. While that cruise was not unpleasant, it was not a great experience. I had several communications with Carnival about that upon my return, that finally answered my concerns but left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth.
This time could not have been more different.
Every member of the boat's crew did their job professionally and with friendliness. I did not see one instance of rudeness from the staff -- despite some guests acting as if they were the kings and queens of being rude and crude. In short, Carnival did their job well. Just as I let them know my displeasure last time, I will be letting them know my pleasure this time. It was simply a job well done.
The GF is hooked on cruising now, and we are trying to see if we can work a New Orleans trip to where we can sail on the boat after she becomes the Sunshine so we can compare the upgrades.